The new preliminary Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) statistics for 2012 indicate that when compared to data for 2011, the number of violent crimes reported by law enforcement agencies around the country increased 1.2 percent during 2012, while the number of property crimes decreased 0.8 percent.
The final UCR statistics—submitted by approximately 18,000 local, state, campus, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies from around the nation—will be released later this year in the Crime in the United States 2012 report.
Among the highlights of the preliminary report:
■Overall, when compared to 2011 figures, the West experienced the largest increase in reported violent crime (up 3.3 percent), and the Northeast experienced the only decrease (down 0.6 percent).
■The Northeast was the only part of the country where the four violent crime categories saw decreases across the board—murder (down 4.4 percent), forcible rapes (down 0.2 percent), robberies (down 1.4 percent), and aggravated assaults (down 0.1 percent).
■The largest rise in reported violent crime (up 3.7 percent) was in cities with populations of 500,000-999,999.
■The West experienced the only increase in reported property crime (up 5.2 percent), while the number of property crimes dropped 1.6 percent in the Northeast, 2.1 percent in the Midwest, and 3.5 percent in the South.
■The number of reported motor vehicle thefts grew by 10.6 percent in the West while showing declines in the Northeast (down 7.9 percent), the Midwest (down 3.1 percent), and the South (down 2.9 percent).
■The number of arson incidents—tallied separately from other property crimes because of various levels of participation by reporting agencies—fell 1.2 percent.
Crime in the United States
The UCR Program is a nationwide cooperative statistical effort of law enforcement agencies voluntarily reporting data on crimes brought to their attention.
The idea for the program began in the 1920s, when the International Association of Chiefs of Police—recognizing a need for national crime statistics—formed the Committee on Uniform Crime Records to develop a system. After studying state criminal codes and evaluating the recordkeeping practices in use, the committee completed a plan for crime reporting that became the foundation of the UCR Program in 1929.
In January 1930, 400 cities in 43 states began participating in the program. That same year, Congress authorized the attorney general to gather crime data; the FBI was designated to serve as the national clearinghouse for the collected information.
The UCR Program’s primary objective is to generate reliable statistics for use in law enforcement administration, operation, and management. Over the years, however, these statistics have become one of the country’s leading social indicators and are used by criminologists, sociologists, legislators, municipal planners, the media, and other students of criminal justice for research and planning purposes.
A word of warning, though—don’t draw conclusions from the data by making direct comparisons between cities or individual agencies. Valid assessments are only possible with careful study and analysis of the unique conditions that affect each law enforcement jurisdiction.
Once again, the final Crime in the United States, 2012 report will be available later this year.
- Press release
- Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime Report, January-December, 2012